Monday, April 1, 2013

Evolving Your Spiritual Community

spiritual community, spiritual image, spiritual photo, spiritual awakening
I'm continuing the topic of spiritual community, which you can always read about under the tab on this Web site with the same name. Assuming you've found one or three communities and you've got a little bit of a spiritual network of friends going, at some point you may find the need or interest in evolving your spiritual community. This can happen for many reasons, and one of the big ones for those of you who are growing and doing your spiritual work is that you outgrow a particular community. Or you may need to spend less time with one community and find another way to meet other needs that you've now discovered. There are quite a few reasons to evolve and expand or even shrink your spiritual community. It is all part of being an evolving, growing spiritual being.


The Many Reasons for Letting Go

One of the greatest, but least appreciated gifts of relationships is that they allow us to practice letting go. Letting go seems to have become contrary to most of ego's programming in Western Culture (except for perhaps those people who have deep commitment issues, but more on that later). Yes, the ego is like a packrat that can't stop gathering stuff. For many people, it's always gathering relationships. To be great at connecting with people and committing to a relationship (romantic, friendship, co-worker, employer, or something else) is a great characteristic to have. But eventually, all relationships end. This is not an excuse to avoid relationships; it's merely a fact of life. As I mentioned earlier, there are quite a few reasons that now is the time to move on from a spiritual community or network of friends. It may also be time to move on from a particular healer or spiritual teacher. Reasons can include:

  1. You've outgrown the relationship
  2. You've healed certain issues in yourself, which others still haven't healed in themselves
  3. The relationship completes (For more on coming to completion, read this blog)
  4. You've moved onto issues for which a healer or teacher isn't able to work on with you
  5. You need to be met at a different level of awareness (moving from the mind to the heart, body to the head, etc.)
I am sure there are several more. But in your heart, you will feel the call to find new relationships and community. You may also suddenly find that a lot of these relationships are disappearing, i.e. some of the people you were once close to are now no longer available. Trust the process. Don't hold on. If someone is to return into your life, the only way they can land in it is upon an open hand and not a closed fist.


The Commitment Issue

However, as I mentioned earlier, this isn't about running away from difficulty or avoiding issues. This is a big problem for a lot of spiritual seekers. They only want to feel good, and when work transitions deeper, they are out the door lickety-split. I've seen this more than a few times in the work that I do, but that's okay. Everyone is evolving in their own way. Sometimes people need to go through a lot more cycles of pain and suffering before they're willing to do the dirty work, set the bone, scream, and start rehab.

With that said, here are some reason to not leave a spiritual community, healer, teacher, and so forth:

  1. You don't like the people (Not liking people in a community to which you've already committed is an excuse. It's better to find out what is activating you before making decisions to leave.)
  2. The teacher or healer is now being mean to you. (The ego likes to confuse intensity and focus on an issue as being dangerous, cruel, or mean. Assuming you've worked with this individual for awhile, specifically chose them, and have good trust, this is a time for more commitment, not leaving.)
  3. You're bored. (What is it that is bored? Is it the ego that is always thrill-seeking? Check-in.)
  4. Topics or spiritual tools are upsetting to you (It's time to find out why you are upset. As I said, if you've chosen this group and been with them for awhile, you should be very cautious about leaving if things get a little disturbing. However, only you know if something has crossed a line or it is going into a place for which you aren't ready).
But as always, stay tuned into your inner knowing. I can't tell you what to do, how long to stay with a group or teacher, or anticipate every possible situation that might arise in this little ole blog post. All I can do is encourage you to continue going within to listen to what your intuition has to say before making a decision.


The Next Cast of Supporting Spiritual People

With all of that said, finding your next group of spiritual compadres may be easy or difficult. It depends on what the next step in your work is supposed to be. If you need to step outside of your comfort zone to challenge your edges, you may have do something very, very new. As fear comes up in these situations, relax into it. Relish it. Make it your friend first before you start making other new friends. For example, consider that you were very involved in conscious dance circles, but now your calling is to do more work on the intellect. Suddenly, you're in a whole other space, sitting with devote buddhists and listening to talks about the Buddha. This can be very unsettling, so it's important to practice patience here. In this new level of self-work and growth, you may need a little time to acclimate.

For those of you in the awakened space, you may feel like waves of people wash through your life. So there may be relatively little that it seems like you need to do. One group of people comes through, and you learn a bunch of lessons very quickly. Then another group comes through. Others of you may have gotten into some really difficult spaces, so the climb out may take a little bit. It is okay to go slowly and go one friend at a time: finding a friend from a yoga class and then meeting a friend at a kirtan concert. Whatever works for you is what you need to do. Especially in the awakened space, things don't necessarily need a whole lot of effort. It's more like a little bit of smart paddling in your row boat goes a long way, and the river does the rest.


Fast Learning and Karmic Cycles

Learning life lessons quickly is particularly relevant for those in awakening, but some of you very conscious souls will do this naturally throughout your lives. I linked to completion earlier in this blog, but to simply explain it, completion is the sense of being done with something. It comes from within, and in its cleanest form, it's extremely neutral. It can be a feeling or even words in your head that say, "I'm done." For those of you moving through karmic lessons at break-neck speed, you may have this sense a lot. This may not jive with your ego programming that tries to hold onto just about every semi-positive and some not-so-positive relationships in your life. People are often terrified of being alone and moving into the unknown. But the awakened space is always unknown, and yet it is known as well. It is the beautiful mixing of the unknowable with the knowable. The more you trust that space, the more things naturally unfold in your life.

So if that unfolding is moving quickly with relationships, relax. Trust it. Let people come into your life, and let them leave it. Certainly, you will do your part to reach out, build trust and relationship agreements, solve conflicts, and so forth. Let it never seem like there isn't work involved. There is. That is how we learn on this plane of existence for the most part, but what does disappear is the struggle. We don't have to force relationships to go on that no longer are appropriate for us. We can trust that we will be looked after and will find the right connections at the right time. That is the best advice I can offer to those of you who are going through so many inner and outer shifts in relationships.


But Where Does It All Stop?

It never really stops, but certainly, different moments in our lives seem to be evolving slower or faster. Truly, only you can know what is right for you. As I try to keep my teaching simple, I like to break things up into roughly five levels of learning:

  • Mind
  • Heart
  • Body
  • Psychic
  • Spirit

The last two have an overlap, but in my eyes, psychic awareness is more involved with how much we can perceive and interact with different dimensions. Spirit is what brings all the other elements together into deep, interconnected love and integrity. With that said, I encourage you to see what elements your spiritual community--built of spiritual teachers, healers, friends, caretakers, guides, and so forth--is currently meeting. Especially if you feel stuck, this is a good place to pause and to see if there are vital elements of yourself that you are overlooking. Then it's time to find a spiritual community or new friend or healer to add to your spiritual network to meet that aspect.


Rites of Relationships

As I said, life is always changing, and no relationship will last forever. That's why it is always a good idea to create a ritual for yourself and potentially others for letting go. About the only time that we ever do this is when someone dies or in a court of law (divorces, restraining orders, etc.). Not very nice stuff. So having a cleaner way to let go of people can be immensely rewarding to you, and it can be immensely rewarding for friends who are open to this and can recognize when it is time to let go and move on. I don't have any particular rules or guidelines for this. You can do whatever you like. It can be the burning of something symbolic, a ritual washing away of some sort, a final last meaningful hug and embrace, or anything at all. If you are doing it on your own, you record a good-bye message on a video, or you can write one in your journal. It doesn't matter what the ritual looks like. It just matters that it is meaningful to you.


Making Space Opens Room for Others

In letting go of relationships, you also are making space for new relationships to come in. This can be surprising for many of you. Suddenly a new lover, friend, spiritual teacher, or whole community shows up practically at your doorstep. You may wonder why you'd never met these people before. But the truth is that you didn't have space for them. So in this way, the ritual of letting go is one of the most important ways that we evolve our spiritual community. Without space in terms of time, energy, and our hearts, there's no way for more people to enter and enrich our lives. So enjoy this beautiful aspect of opening up space and opening up your life. I'm sure that the right people will show up at the right time to meet you in the way that you need it most in your spiritual evolution.

The spring flowers picture on this page is a gift from Becky Stiller. You can see more of her work on her Flickr account.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...